[crm-sig] Sequences of physical and conceptual objects

Tony Gill tony_gill at notes.rlg.org
Wed Jan 23 00:40:47 EET 2002

Dear CRM-SIG Colleagues,

Martin Doerr wrote:
> "How to model sequences of physical and conceptual objects?
> Action: Tony Gill to work this up with a real data example that is in 

I'm going to give two different examples that I hope will illustrate the 
need for the CRM to model sequences of physical and conceptual objects -- 
one very specific, and the other based on a proposed extension of the 
practical scope [http://cidoc.ics.forth.gr/crm_scope_definition.html] to 
partially cover a new developing standard.

Example 1: The Ellesmere Chaucer

The Huntingon Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens 
[http://www.huntington.org/] recently contributed an electronic copy of 
the Ellesmere Chaucer manuscript to RLG Cultural Materials. Here is their 
description of it:

"Created within the first decade after Chaucer's death, the Ellesmere 
manuscript is generally regarded to be the most complete and authoritative 
source for the text of the Canterbury Tales. It is written on 232 vellum 
leaves in a vernacular book hand known as anglicana formata. The 23 
miniature paintings depicting the Canterbury Pilgrims are a notable 
feature, as well as the many illuminated and decorated borders." (Date 

The manuscript is numbered using a folio system, i.e. each vellum leaf of 
the manuscript is sequentially numbered, with the front of the leaf being 
identified as "recto" and the back as "verso". There is also some front 
and end matter that use a different numbering scheme. Naturally, since 
this is a (medieval) manuscript, it is important to preserve the sequence 
of the leaves (physcial objects) in order to preserve the correct flow of 
the narrative (in this case, the canonical copy of The Canterbury Tales). 
Since there are two different numbering schemes used for the manuscript, 
this cannot be achieved by the folio numbers alone.

For RLG Cultural Materials, the Huntington supplied us with approximately 
460 high-resolution 65MB TIF images (conceptual objects?) on 54 CD-ROMs (I 
know this because I uploaded them all!). Although these are surrogates for 
the vellum leaves, there are two discrete image files per leaf (one for 
each side). Again, it is important to present the images in the correct 
sequence when providing access to them online.

In both cases, the sequence of the objects, whether they are leaves of the 
original manuscript or digital reproductions of them, is an important part 
of the object's description and needs to be supported by the CRM.

Example 2: Metadata Encoding & Transmission Standard

METS (http://www.loc.gov/standards/mets/) is a new metadata standard based 
on XML that is maintained by the Library of Congress. It primarily 
functions as a "wrapper" for "complex digital objects" that are comprised 
of multiple components. A METS document consists of four sections:

Descriptive Metadata
Adminstrative Metadata
File Inventory
Structural Map

METS is non-prescriptive on the descriptive and adminstrative metadata -- 
it provides a place to embed or link to the metadata, but does not 
prescribe the elements or their semantics.

However, it *does* specify the encoding of the file inventory and 
structural map, and allows both sequences and hierarchies of composite 
digital objects (such as the Ellesmere Chaucer) to be encoded.

Since a number of institutions (including RLG) are actively investigating 
the use of METS for both the presentation and long-term archiving of 
digital cultural heritage objects, I claim that it should be added to the 
practical scope of the CRM.


Tony Gill <> tony.gill at notes.rlg.org
Research Libraries Group <> http://www.rlg.org/
1200 Villa Street, Mountain View, CA 94041 USA
Voice: +1 (650) 691-2304 <> Fax: +1 (650) 964-1461

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